What is a case study?

If you’re looking for a compelling way to market your firm, case studies pack a powerful punch. They’re more in-depth than testimonials, and they tell a story, which people love to read. By sharing a case study you give your potential clients the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the work you do. They also get a chance to see how you’ve helped people or businesses like theirs, so they highlight your expertise.

Once you’ve written a case study, you can post it on your website, blog, social media pages, email marketing and more. You get a high rate of return for your effort.

How to get a case study

We’ve found the following approach works best.

Select your subjects

You want to select a subject that fits at least one of the following criteria (though more criteria is even better):

They’ve had an awesome experience or unexpectedly positive result with you
They’re typical of your ideal client or of the types of clients you want to work with
Their story involves the type of services you enjoy providing or want to do more of
They’re excited about the work you’ve done for them

Ideally, they are people who like to share information and are comfortable talking about themselves. The more they share, the easier it is for you to write something engaging. That also makes it easier to get direct quotes from them.

Once you’ve selected a subject, you need to ask their permission to share their story and be in the case study.

Email the client

Get in touch with your client to let them know you enjoyed working with them and would love to share a bit about the work you’ve done together with potential clients. Ask them for ~15 minutes of their time to chat about it.

Prepare questions before the call

Create a Case Study Brief document. It’s important to have some questions prepared in advance, to get the conversation started. Think about what you want to get out of the interview and which service you might like to focus on. For example, if you know you saved this client a lot of time on payroll, make sure you ask questions about that. A good question to start with is “Before you came to us, how were you managing X?” (where X is the service you wound up providing). Case Study Brief template is below.

Your case study should follow a formula. Start with what they were doing before working with you, their pain point or the challenge they faced, what options or alternatives they considered, how they heard about you, why they chose to work with you, and what results they obtained after working with you.

It can help to end with a question that leads to a call to action, like “What advice would you give to others who faced the same challenges you did?” or “Would you recommend us to others and if yes, why?” Even a question like “Were there any benefits of working with us that surprised you or you weren’t expecting?” can get you fantastic answers.

Give them a call

Contact them at the specified time and have a chat through your questions. Our recommendations for running a case study interview is below the case study brief template

Let the client talk

It’s really important to note that while it is good to have questions prepared in advance, don’t let this inhibit the natural flow of conversation. Often your clients may talk about things you may not have even known you helped with, or the impact it had on them. Be prepared to ask some follow up questions you might not have anticipated based on what they say.

It helps to be prepared to ask questions in two different ways, in case the client has difficulty understanding the question or doesn’t give you an answer you can use. For example, “Why did you choose to work with us?” can also be asked as “What made us stand out from other alternatives?”

Let them know how the case study will be used

Clients appreciate it when you tell them how you plan to use their case study. A good line is:

“Thanks very much for all this, we really appreciate it. We’re planning to use this on our website, on the blog and we’ll promote it through social media as well. Are you happy if we also include a quote from you in a proposal to future prospects?”

Thank them

Thanking them over the phone and by email is absolutely necessary. You may choose to do something extra for them as well. If you like you can give them the option of reading over the case study before you publish it or share factual information with them so they can confirm the information you’ve given is correct.

Using your case study

Once you’ve written your case study, you’re free to use it in your marketing material. You can

  • Post it on your website
  • Use it on your blog
  • Link to it on your social media
  • Take some of the great quotes from it and use them in your testimonials
  • Mention it in your brochures

Case Study Brief Template

Your name:


Small business owners in {area}
What type of communication is this?
Client case study
Objective/purpose of communication?
Show how {Your Company Name} helps small business owners increase profits and save time on {task e.g. payroll}
Core message
Improved their cashflow dramatically
Reduced time spent on payroll
Helped them launch a new product
Are there any specific points you would like covered in the case study?
Article intro
Why did you choose {Your Company Name}?
What made us stand out?
Main points
What was it like dealing with {Your Company Name}?
What do you most like about {Your Company Name}?
Can you describe a key successful outcome that {Your Company Name} has helped out achieve?
What impact did that have on your business?
Would you recommend {Your Company Name} to other businesses?
Client contact details

Conducting a case study interview

After thanking them for agreeing to be in the case study, explain what the case study is and how it will be used.

Now use the following steps:

  1. Confirm the name of the interview subject, how they spell their name, and their company name
  2. Confirm the role or position of interview subject in the company being highlighted
  3. Use any of the following questions to get great answers for your case study

Tell me a bit about your company

How long have you been in business?
What do you do?
Who do you help?

Tell me a bit about how you managed your accounting/bookkeeping before you began working with us?

What worked well?
What issues or challenges did you face?
What made you realize you needed a different approach?

How did you hear about us?

What led you to us?
What were your impressions of us?
What enabled you to make the decision to work with us? (or, what did you like about us?)

What services do we provide that are the most valuable to you?

How has it been working with us?
How was the transition process?

What have been the benefits of working with us?

What impact has working with us had on your business?
Were there any unanticipated benefits?
What words would you use to describe us?
What thoughts would you give to someone struggling with the same issues you struggled with?

Anything else about working with us that we should share?